It’s near the end of April and Hollywood has already made more money at this point of the year than in 2022. The last couple of months has brought moviegoers sequels to such popular franchises as John Wick, Creed, and Scream. And just this past weekend, a new horror movie, Evil Dead Rise, opened to critical acclaim, with audiences flocking to see the latest entry in the Sam Raimi-created horror franchise.
How well did they do? And what other movies have succeeded at the box office in 2023? Marvel and DC are represented by the third Ant-Man film and the second Shazam film, respectively. Legacy sequels about a boxer, a monosyllabic assassin, and a masked murderer garnered huge financial returns. Plus, a bear on cocaine managed to take a bite out of the box office. And a certain brotherly duo of Brooklyn’s finest plumbers has won over audiences with their Bowser-beating antics. Below are the top 10 most popular movies of 2023 — so far — based on their domestic box-office earnings.
Note: U.S. domestic box office grosses come via Box Office Mojo on April 23. The list only includes films released in 2023.
In the late 1960s, Chuck Smith (Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer), a Southern California pastor, struggles to inspire his congregation due to his inability to connect with the youth, particularly the hippie movement. One day, Chuck meets hitchhiker Lonnie Frisbee (The Chosen’s Jonathan Roumie), a free-spirited hippie traveling around and spreading the word of Jesus.
Initially skeptical, Chuck and Lonnie eventually find common ground and become an “odd couple” as they partner up to evangelize hippies. The film is based on the true story of the Calvary Chapel movement. Jesus Revolution has done great business so far, grossing $52 million against a $15 million budget. Despite your religious beliefs, if there is a place where you can count on Jesus, it’s at the box office.
Jesus Revolution is now in theaters.
With DC Studios under new leadership, the new DC Universe will kick off in 2025. However, there are still DCEU properties set to come out before the new DC lineup begins. One of those projects is Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the sequel to 2019’s Shazam! In the recently released film, Billy Batson (Darby and the Dead‘s Asher Angel), known by his superhero identity Shazam (Chuck‘s Zachary Levi), and his foster siblings are adjusting to their new lives as teenage superheroes.
The teenagers are thrust into a battle with the Daughters of Atlas: Anthea (West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler), Kalypso (Strange World‘sLucy Liu), and Hespera (Fast X‘s Helen Mirren). Unfortunately for Fury of the Gods, this might be the only list where its box-office returns are viewed as positive. On a budget of nearly $125 million, the film has only grossed a fraction of what it needs in order to be a hit. It will take a superhero-like effort for the film to break even to justify another sequel.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is now available digitally and on demand.
In a perfect world, Cocaine Bear wins Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars. Cocaine Bear symbolizes escapism at its finest. It’s the type of movie that’s equal parts entertaining and ridiculous. The premise is very easy to understand. A bear ingests cocaine and goes buck wild on a killing spree.
Directed by Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels), Cocaine Bear features an ensemble cast that includes Keri Russell (The Americans), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Alden Ehrenreich (Solo), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire), Margo Martindale (The Watcher) and the late Ray Liotta (Blackbird). Based on its domestic gross of north of $60 million, giving drugs to a bear and watching it wreak havoc is a winning movie idea in 2023.
Cocaine Bear is now available digitally and on demand.
Everyone’s heard of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s an easy target for nerd jokes, as the popular tabletop RPG is commonly associated with dorks with no lives escaping into a made-up world of, well, dungeons and dragons. Yet in a post-Game of Thrones world, liking geeky stuff like Dungeons & Dragons is now not only cool but also what is made into $150 million blockbusters like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
So what makes Honor Among Thieves so special? First, the cast is oddball in all the right ways, with Chris Pine, Bridgerton‘s Regé-Jean Page, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, It‘s Sophia Ellis, and Hugh Grant all seeming to have a ball in the film’s recently released trailer. Second, and most importantly, the movie is written and directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the duo behind the comedies Horrible Bosses and Game Night. D & D die-hards are probably upset about the comedic, somewhat campy tone the movie has, but the film has seemed to win over new fans. The movie has already grossed over $80 million so far and could be the start of a new franchise.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is now in theaters.
In the history of cinema, when has it ever been a good idea to create a creepy-looking doll? The answer is never. The creepy doll will always turn against its humans. Just look at M3GAN, or the Model 3 Generative Android, in this sci-fi horror from Blumhouse. After the death of her parents, Cady (The Haunting of Hill House’s Violet McGraw) is put into the custody of her aunt, Gemma (Girls’ Allison Williams).
Ill-prepared to raise a child, Gemma enlists the help of her company’s newest project, M3GAN, a lifelike robot intended to become the ultimate companion for a child. At first, M3Gan is a huge success with Cady, acting as a parent figure in her life. However, M3GAN’s overprotectiveness turns hostile as she targets anyone who could come in the way of her relationship with Cady. M3GAN is a wild, campy ride that is thrilling, adventurous, and quite funny.
M3GAN is available to stream on Peacock.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: another psychopathic person takes on the moniker of Ghostface and hunts down teenagers from Woodsboro. That’s the basic premise of every Scream movie, but its simplicity should not be seen as a detriment. The formulaic storyline is a proven winner, considering the franchise has spawned six films. The latest offering, Scream VI, makes New York City the home of Ghostface’s new killing field.
The four survivors of the most recent Woodsboro murders — Sam (In the Heights‘ Melissa Barrera), Tara Carpenter (Wednesday’s Jenna Ortega), Mindy Meeks-Martin (Yellowjackets’ Jasmin Savoy Brown), and Chad Meeks-Martin (Love, Victor’s Mason Gooding) — are trying to start fresh in New York when Ghostface strikes again, putting their lives in peril. Like John Wick, the Scream franchise continues to churn out hits with each movie. The demand for Ghostface is still there, as evidenced by the film’s franchise-best $44.4 million opening weekend domestically.
Scream VI is now available digitally and on demand.
It’s not a bold prediction to say that Michael B. Jordan (Creed) will be one of Hollywood’s top stars over the next decade. Jordan could also be on his way to becoming one of the more well-respected and prolific directors because of Creed III. Directed by Jordan, the film begins with Adonis “Donnie” Creed retired from life as a professional fighter. Now, Donnie is on the outside of the ropes, running a gym and serving as a boxing promoter. Twenty years prior, Donnie’s best friend, Damian (Devotion’s Jonathan Majors), took the fall for him in a fight outside a liquor store, resulting in a prison sentence.
Now fresh out of prison two decades later, Damian has aspirations to become a boxing champion, and unsurprisingly, he’s willing to take down Donnie to reach the top. Predictably, the showdown between Donnie and Damian culminates in the ring. The boxing sequences are superb, as many of the scenes were gorgeously shot with IMAX cameras. Creed III doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it refreshes the boxing formula in an exhilarating way.
Creed III is now available digitally and on demand.
I’m running out of adjectives to describe the awesomeness of John Wick: Chapter 4. Franchises should not be improving with their fourth installment, but that’s the case in Chapter 4, where John (The Matrix’s Keanu Reeves) is hell-bent on bringing the High Table to its knees, one bullet at a time. Thanks to a proposal from Winston (Deadwood’s Ian McShane), John sees an opportunity to get out of the criminal underworld.
If he defeats the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (It’s Bill Skarsgård), a senior member of the High Table, in a duel, then John will earn his freedom. Getting to the duel may prove quite difficult as hundreds of assassins try to take out John and earn the large bounty that comes with it. John Wick: Chapter 4 is an achievement in action filmmaking and should be viewed on the biggest screen possible.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is now available digitally and on demand.
It would not be a list about the box office without a Marvel movie. The biggest film released in 2023 is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third film in the Ant-Man trilogy. The stakes have been raised in Quantumania as Scott Lang (The Shrink Next Door’s Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Lost’s Evangeline Lilly), and company are transported to the Quantum Realm. In the minuscule dimension, Scott meets Kang the Conqueror (Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors), a time-traveling supervillain positioned as the next Thanos-type villain for Marvel moving forward.
As the first film in Phase 5 of the MCU, Quantumania teases how Marvel is setting up the Multiverse Saga for its one overarching story, similar to the Infinity Saga. Despite grossing over $200 million domestically, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has underperformed at the box office in general, and received the lowest CinemaScore in the MCU’s history. However, Marvel has Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 coming in May, which will probably surpass Quantumania financially and critically. If not, the Marvel brand is in serious trouble.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now in theaters.
“It’s-a me, Mario!” There are fewer words that bring such joy across generations as those uttered by everyone’s favorite Koopa-stomping, inter-dimensional traveling Italian plumber. And judging from its first three weeks of release, audiences can’t get enough as The Super Mario Bros. Movie even if the critical reception has been lukewarm at best.
After an initial outcry over the casting of the non-Italian Chris Pratt for the very Italian role of Mario, fans seem to have gotten in line to fall in love with every trailer, clip, and image that has been released so far. Aside from Pratt, the vocal cast is stellar, with Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, The Menu‘s Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. The movie appears to be fan service in the best possible way, with plenty of Rainbow Roads, Thwomps, and Warp Zones featured to satisfy nostalgic older fans and young kids alike. In a crowded animated landscape filled with Pusses in Boots and little mischievous Minions, The Super Mario Bros. Movie stands out and is already 2023’s biggest blockbuster both domestically and worldwide.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is now in theaters.